Afterall 51: Meditations

Afterall 51: Meditations


Afterall issue 51: Meditations, 2021. Cover design: Pacific, New York.

October 3, 2021
Afterall 51: Meditations
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Afterall is pleased to present issue 51, Mediations. Today, rethinking the medium in art is about approaching it as a form of mediation through its technical and material dimensions and about recognising and examining the latter in their capacities to shape experience, perception as well as setting the conditions of possibilities for the production, circulation and archiving of visual culture. What is more, with technological change and the expansion of contemporary art practices on a planetary scale, global art occupies a front seat when it comes to questioning the way regimes of the sensible are shaped under technical and material conditions, in their local and cultural specificities. Today, one needs to look at locally specific and differentiated understandings of the technicality of regimes of mediations. Afterall’s long-standing interest in examining and diagnosing “minor” artistic positions—be it from a geographical or historical frame—is furthered by paying attention to a plurality of artistic languages, not only to their regional or cultural conditions, but to their technical-material conditions as well.

This issue opens up with a focus on Singaporean artist Ho Tzu Nyen, whose research-based practice examining Southeast Asia as historical and cultural constructs unfolds through single-channel moving-image work, installations and intermedia environments. Curator and critic David Teh discusses the artist’s investigations into Singapore and Southeast Asia in works including his opera Ten Thousand Tigers (2014) or his Critical Dictionary of Southeast Asia (2012–ongoing), while film scholar Jaimie Baron inscribes Ho’s The Name and The Nameless (2015) as part of the experimental cinema strategies of the found footage film and of the supercut. The issue continues its inquiry into Southeast Asia with an insert by the Yogyakarta-based collective Lifepatch, reflecting their work at the intersections of community-oriented art, science and technology. The collective’s collage is put in dialogue with an essay by anthropologist and film-maker Rosalia Namsai Engchuan, which examines Lifepatch’s DIWO (Do It With Others) ethos and the Indonesian notion of gotong royong. Kathleen Ditzig looks at the MoMA’s International Programme in Southeast Asia and the way seminal modernist exhibitions were appropriated by local actors in Southeast Asia to showcase regional understandings of modernity.

Current conversations around culturally specific forms of mediations and conceptions of technology that move beyond the Eurocentrism of the Greek technê owe much to the work of Yuk Hui. In his essay for Afterall, the Hong-Kongese philosopher articulates an alternative route to the impasses of postmodern thought and exposes his critique of other attempts such as the various propositions to uncover national or regional alternative modernities.

Two artists’ features focus on the aesthetic modulations produced through formal and conceptual experiments with, on the one hand, the medium of film in Rosalind Nashashibi’s work, and (in)auditory objects in Christina Kubisch, on the other. Curator and Afterall editor Nav Haq provides a panoramic account of Nashashibi’s early practice and the way the artist depicts individuals and their behaviour, and interactions with other people or with objects, through the notion of “proxemics.” Curator Mike Sperlinger considers how the various formal strategies used by Nashashibi produce “frames” (in the sense of sociologist Erving Goffman) that complicate the boundaries between the natural flow of daily life and rehearsed or staged behaviour and performativity. Art historian Anne Zeitz and musician, composer and writer Seth Ayyaz look at Christina Kubisch’s long-standing engagement with sound and the thresholds of the audible. Examining the artist and composer’s trajectory from the 1970s onwards, Zeitz carefully maps out the development of her experiments with the limits of aurality, while Ayyaz’s essay, interrogates Kubisch’s work for its potential to de-naturalise the ear and the practice of listening.

Three contributions that address, echo and create new associations with the thematic conclude the issue. Curator Edwin Nasr analyses Palestinian artist Jumana Manna’s video Wild Relatives (2018), which retraces a transnational geography of extractivist dynamics between Syria and Norway. Art historian Isobel Harbison’s survey of works by Northern Irish film-maker Pat Murphy and films produced by the Derry Film and Video Workshop (DFVW) are set against a backdrop of mainstream British TV programmes and films orientalising and othering Northern Irish culture. Finally, curator Remco de Blaaij offers an overview of recent practices from Aotearoa. Reviewing the work of the performative research and action group founded by visual artist Rosanna Raymond SaVAge K’lub, projects of the Samoa House Library as well as the barkcloth pieces of Nikau Hindin, de Blaaij shows how these projects, often dwelling in isolation, constantly mediate with the outside to build local identity.

Afterall issue 51 will be launched online, with various events to be announced through our newsletter and website.

Afterall Books’ latest titles in the One Work series are Pierre Huyghe: Human Mask by Mark Lewis and  Beverly Buchanan: Marsh Ruins by Amelia Groom. The latest titles in Afterall’s Exhibition Histories series are Art and its Worlds: Exhibitions, Institutions and Art Becoming Public and Uncooperative Contemporaries: Art Exhibitions in Shanghai c.2000.

Afterall journal is published by Central Saint Martins, London, in editorial partnership with M HKA, Antwerp; the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto, and in association with the University of Chicago Press.

Afterall is now available as an e-book edition, free to download for subscribers. Subscribe here.

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